UMass hockey seniors score at Providence to snap 6-game losing streak

By KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer

Published: 02-03-2023 9:49 PM

UMass’ senior forwards heeded coach Greg Carvel’s calls for more scoring, as the Minutemen snapped a six-game losing streak by beating Providence 3-2 on Friday night in Rhode Island.

Seniors scored all three goals for UMass (9-13-3, 3-11-1 Hockey East), which hadn’t won since Jan. 3.

After failing to convert a power play midway through the third period, UMass’ leadership group connected for a go-ahead goal. Ryan Ufko wheeled a pass around to Scott Morrow barely inside the blue line, who fired it diagonal toward the net. Cal Kiefuk tipped it past Providence goalie Philip Svedebäck with 8 minutes, 3 seconds remaining for a 3-2 advantage. 

He hadn’t scored since Jan. 3 in a shutout victory over Brown.

Providence (12-9-6, 7-5-5) pulled its goalie for the final 2:27 and generated eight shots before taking a timeout with 1:15 left. UMass goalie Luke Pavicich saved five of those, and Kenny Connors blocked one. Pavicich finished with 43 saves.

Reed Lebster put away two goals in the first period to snap a long drought and put UMass in a strong position on the road.

An early power play staked the Minutemen a first-period lead. Providence’s Liam Valentine was whistled for holding 4 minutes, 32 seconds in. UMass needed just 62 seconds for its No. 2 in the nation power play to put a goal away. Ufko worked the puck around to Kenny Connors at the right circle, and he fired a shot at Svedebäck. It kicked off his pads right to Lebster, who flipped it into the net for his first goal since Nov. 18 and first point since Dec. 7. That was the 50th point of his career.

He scored the second one from much farther out. Fellow senior Kiefiuk found him from across the ice as Lebster entered the zone. Lebster didn’t do anything cute. He whipped it to the far corner with 2:57 left in the period to notch his first multi-goal game since the NCAA Tournament loss against Minnesota last spring. It gave him seven for the season

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Providence appeared to shave UMass’ advantage in half in the final minute when Jaroslav Chmelar deflected a puck into the net on the power play, but UMass challenged for offsides and wiped it out. There was much confusion about the clock and time left on the power play before the sides resumed. The Minutemen pushed through the final minute and ended the opening frame with its two-goal lead intact.

Brett Brerard picked a corner through traffic 4½ minutes into the second period to bring the Friars within a goal. Connor Kelly and Guillaume Richard assisted the rocket, and Kelly provided a screen in front of Pavicich’s glove side.

The Friars penned UMass into its own end for much of the second period and even forced Greg Carvel to use a timeout after an icing call. The Minutemen weathered the pressure and entered the third period with a one-goal lead.

It only survived 4:23 into the third. Nick Poisson found Parker Ford shortly after entering the zone, and Ford, Providence’s leading scorer, weaved through UMass’ defense and beat Pavicich after a flurry of moves to knot the game 2-2.

UMass went on the power play with 10:43 remaining after a Ford slash. The Minutemen gave up a shorthanded breakaway to Riley Duran, but Pavicich stoned him at the far post.

UMass only plays one game this weekend and will return to the ice Feb. 11 for the first of two games against Vermont.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.]]>